Election 2012: Congress

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Despite the Obama administration’s poor performance, it appears that President Obama is on his way to a second term. It also appears that the Senate will continue to remain in the hands of the Democrats and now there is speculation that favors the Democrats taking back the House of Representatives.

What has changed? Up with Chris Hayes host Chris Hayes and The Nation‘s Washington correspondent, John Nichols discuss the status of heavily contested U.S. House and Senate races across the country, and the polls that show a potential uptick for Democrats.

At the New York Times, Nate Silver, who writes Five Thirty Eight, gives his analysis on key Senate races and what has gone wrong for GOP Candidates:

Since we published our initial Senate forecast on Tuesday, Republicans have seen an additional decline in their standing in two major races.

Two polls of Virginia published on Wednesday gave the Democrat, the former Gov. Tim Kaine, leads of 4 and 7 percentage points over the Republican, the former Senator George Allen. [..]

The other problematic state for Republicans is Wisconsin, where their candidate, the former Gov. Tommy Thompson, had once appeared to hold the advantage.

Mr. Thompson’s Democratic opponent, Representative Tammy Baldwin, had published an internal poll earlier this week showing her pulling into the lead. [..]

Wednesday also brought bad news for Republicans in Massachusetts, where a fourth consecutive poll showed the Democrat Elizabeth Warren ahead of Senator Scott Brown; in Connecticut, where a poll gave the Democrat Chris Murphy a slight advantage over their candidate, Linda McMahon; and in Florida, where a Fox News poll gave the Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson a 14-point lead.

The Democrats’ chances of controlling the Senate have increased to 79 percent in the forecast, up from 70 percent on Tuesday.

Nate has two theories on what has effected the downturn for the GOP:

Theory No. 1: Is Romney a Downballot Drag?

Mr. Romney has not dictated much in the way of detailed programs in these areas, and some of the policy stances that he has articulated are unpopular.

Mr. Romney has also been less able to campaign effectively against an unpopular Democratic initiative, the Democrats’ health care bill, because he passed a similar bill as governor of Massachusetts.

Finally, some voters who disapprove of Mr. Obama, but who also have lukewarm feelings toward Mr. Romney, might lean toward voting Democrat for Senate in effort to ensure divided government, especially since Republicans also have control of the House.

Theory No. 2: G.O.P. Conservatism Is Hurting

An alternative hypothesis is that the shift has to do with overall perceptions of the Republican platform.

Nate’s last comment in the article was that if this trend continues with the Senate races leaning to Democrats just how vulnerable is the GOP to losing the House? Well here are a couple of articles that discuss just that possibility:

Breaking blue? Will Romney-Ryan troubles give Dems shot at House Majority?]

by Michael John Spinelli

(As) Romney-Ryan lose steam just when they’re supposed to be gaining on the White House, Republicans, including House Ohio Congressman and House Speaker John Boehner, show by actions they took last week that maintaining control of the people’s chamber may not be the slam dunk they once thought.

Reports surfaced late last week that House Republicans are throwing in $3.2 million to save their majority. Speaker John Boehner, one report said, is in “all-out panic mode,” manifested by his initiative to ask his Republican Members to put up $3.2 million from their coffers to save their shaky House majority.

If the Senate can stay in Democratic control, as many pollsters believe it can, and the House gavel leaves Boehner’s grip to be wielded by California congresswoman Nancy Pelosi again, President Obama’s second term will turn on a dime from being four years of more GOP obstruction to his every policy recommendation, to a term he can double down on, learning from the battlefield of missed first-term opportunities. [..]

Democrats are currently leading in national “generic ballot polls that ask people which party they prefer for House races (without naming candidates), Dylan Matthews at Wonkblog writes, about the fact that has led a forecasters like Princeton’s Sam Wang to conclude that, based on past elections, Democrats are favored to retake the House. Wang puts the odds of that occurring at 74 percent.

The article by Mr. Wang that is cited above is from August. This is Mr. Wang’s latest analysis of the Democrat’s change of taking back the House:

Conditions through August showed a 2% lead on the generic Congressional ballot for Democrats. As of September 20th, in the wake of the Democratic convention, the lead has widened to 4.0 +/- 2.0%. Although it has yet to be appreciated by pundits, this could well translate to a November loss of the House of Representatives by Republicans. Based on the generic Congressional ballot, the probability of a Democratic takeover is 74% with a median 16-seat majority. Whichever party is in control, the seat margin is headed for being narrower than the current Congress. Like any probability in the 20-80% range, this is a knife-edge situation. This picture may change over the coming six weeks as more information, especially district-level polls, becomes available. [..]

Predicting the House outcome is challenging. First, there is the basic problem that we have to estimate how far opinion will move between now and November. On top of that, there is uncertainty in knowing how the polling measurement – generic Congressional ballot preference – translates to a seat outcome.

Another approach would be to use district-by-district polls and ratings. An estimate like that can be seen from our data partner, Pollster.com. Their House outlook shows retained GOP control, and RealClearPolitics implies the same. However, many of those polls are weeks or months old. My estimate today suggests that in the coming weeks, we might look for district polls to move in the Democrats’ direction. This is also an opportunity for a detailed analytical approach, as taken elsewhere, to shine.

Regardless of which party controls the Executive Branch, it is the Congress that can dictate the direction of policies. We will be following these races and trends closely.


  1. TMC
  2. banger

    I’ve thought, for a long time, that when people sit down and really think things out that the current Republican Party is just not appealing. Their brand is primarily negative and radical–the American electorate does not like that very much and when a voter sits down to actually vote–will they vote for a brave new world? I don’t think so.

    The oligarchs will do just fine with the Democrats and I don’t think they will dump a lot more money into Republican coffers although, perhaps, if the House looks vulnerable they might throw a lot of money in. As things stand there is no danger of any major change or any danger to the oligarchs. A full-blown neo-feudalism will not come in as quickly–and, to me, that’s reason enough to hope for Democratic gains–we need the time to make alternate arrangements. With across the board Republican victories the system would change very quickly.  

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